Roger Eugene Ailes was born in Warren, Ohio, the son of Donna Marie and Robert Eugene Ailes, a factory foreman at a local factory. Later in life, Roger Ailes was inducted into the Warren High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
Roger Ailes graduated from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio with a BA in 1962. Soon afterwards, Ailes began his television career as a property assistant on The Mike Douglas Show (1961). Working in Cleveland and Philadelphia, Roger Ailes quickly rose to producer in 1965 and executive producer between 1967 and 1968. “The Mike Douglas Show” was also the show that allowed Roger Ailes to be nominated for an Emmy in 1968.
It was during Roger Ailes’ work on “The Mike Douglas” show that he engaged in a lively discussion about Television and the role it plays in Politics with then-Presidential candidate Richard Nixon. Nixon, having recognized Roger Ailes talent and foresight, brought him on as media adviser to Nixon’s presidential campaign from 1967-1968.
In 1968, Roger Ailes founded Ailes Communication in New York, a media production and consulting firm which consulted for a number of different politicians and businesses. He produced two Broadway plays: “Mother Earth” in 1972 and “Hot-L Baltimore”, which premiered in 1973 and ran for three years.
Roger Ailes’ exposure and success in his political consulting during the Nixon campaign, allowed him to once again consult for a presidential campaign. This time, for the 1984 campaign of Ronald Reagan. It is widely believed that Ailes’ coaching of Reagan was the deciding factor which allowed Reagan to win the second presidential debate with Walter Mondale.
Again in 1987 and 1988, while acting as producer for several television specials, Roger Ailes successfully coached and consulted George Bush to victory in both the Republican primaries and, afterwards, the presidential election beating opponent Michael Dukakis. Roger Ailes announced his withdrawal from political consulting in 1992.
After his successful political consulting efforts, Roger Ailes helped produce a television special called “Television and the Presidency”, which was later expanded to be a multi-part series. In 1988, Roger Ailes wrote a book called “You Are the Message: Secrets of the Master Communicators”, in which he divulged some of the strategies and philosophies for successful performances in public.
In 1993, Roger Ailes was named president of CNBC. During Ailes’ presidency at CNBC, he planned and executed the inception of another CNBC channel, “America’s Talking”, which debuted in 1994. It was on this channel that Roger Ailes hosted a nightly talk show called “Straight Forward”.
Once the decision by Microsoft and NBC to create an online and cable news outlet became clear, and it was decided that “America’s Talking” would be abandoned, Roger Ailes left – the newly named – MSNBC. Shortly after his departure from NBC/MSNBC, he was hired by Rupert Murdoch to create the now-famous “Fox News Channel” for Murdoch’s News Corporation. Fox News quickly became the most-watched cable news network in the United States, in part due to notable names such as Geraldo Rivera, as well as the memorable tagline – which to this day is still used – “Fair and Balanced”. Fox News is also credited with big name stars, such as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren.
To this day, he remains chair and CEO of Fox News Channel and also chairs Fox Television Stations, Twentieth Television, MyNetwork TV and Fox Business Network.